You are hanging out on Hollywood Boulevard, just one of a handful of weekday morning celebrity seekers checking out the stars in the sidewalk. Just as you are about to walk on Bob Hope and Big Bird, you hear music wafting up from somewhere below: "Hooray for Hollywood."
That familiar sound makes you feel, for just a moment, as though you are a big movie star arriving at a premiere of your latest film at, say, the nearby Mann's Chinese. As you flip a feather boa over one shoulder, you offer a Queen Elizabeth wave to your adoring public and thank the little people, flashing blinding white teeth as cameras pop all around you.
But then that familiar "get real" feeling quickly replaces the fantasy as you realize the music is not your own personal soundtrack, but a signal that you have arrived at the new Hollywood Entertainment Museum. The $5.5 million museum is part of a redevelopment effort to revive old-style Hollywood glamour. The plan to create such a museum dates back 10 years.
The enticing sound is emanating from a staircase that leads down to the 33,000-square-foot Barry Howard-designed museum. Everything is light, new, clean, streamlined -- unlike other dark boulevard offerings such as the Hollywood Wax Museum or Ripley's Believe It or Not! Museum, which create the eerie feeling that you've fallen down the stairs at Norma Desmond's house and can't get up.
You are ushered from the ticket office into the museum's central gallery, dominated by the very huge goddess of entertainment. On this day, information was provided by a docent wearing period Western attire for no apparent reason.
On the half-hour, the central gallery becomes a big-screen theater for showings of the six-minute film "The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of," produced by Chuck Workman. It's a dizzying, high-speed retrospective of film clips accompanied by a mega-decibel whoosh of well-known movie music. The high volume renders film dialogue nearly incomprehensible, but it's fun.
"They should make it longer -- half an hour!" suggested one museum patron.
When the lights come up, there are other attractions in this area. A time-line tells the history of Hollywood, including such tidbits as "All studios shut down for Rudolph Valentino's funeral (1926)." The room also includes a miniature model of Hollywood, an eight-year labor of love by a Hollywood cabinetmaker, completed shortly after World War II.
Items donated from the Max Factor Museum dominate an area devoted to the art of makeup (the display includes a video monitor showing Michael Jackson's make-over for the "Thriller" music video and Robin Williams' for "Mrs. Doubtfire").
Another area offers a collection of historic camera and sound equipment. Along another wall, in the "Dream Merchants" exhibit, you can touch a button and hear the stars' own voices uttering sound bites, such as Orson Welles on the subject of money, Walt Disney on animation art and Tina Turner on sex appeal.
'Trek' and 'Cheers'
After this, the docent escaped from "Stagecoach" steers you toward the West Wing through an area called the Back Lot -- filled with props, costumes and sets from the studios -- and on to the "Star Trek" exhibit. After being "beamed up" with some rather tired light and sound effects, you follow a docent in Starfleet uniform (now this makes sense) onto an authentic "Star Trek" "bridge," where you can sit in Captain Kirk's chair, view clips from old shows, see cases of scaly Klingon masks and take "Star Trek" trivia tests via video screens.
After that, you'll not only want, but have, to go where everybody knows your name: the set from "Cheers." The room housing the bar will eventually be available for parties or weddings.
The exit -- through Sam Malone's office -- leads into the Company Store, which sells "Star Trek" scripts and "Cheers" mugs, and features glamorous chaises longues from the Max Factor collections as well as a tower of hot-fudge jars from Hollywood's recently closed landmark ice cream parlor, C.C. Brown's.
If you ignore the docent, you can wander into the Education Wing instead. It includes a recording studio, editing suite and an electronic library with an entertainment industry job bank.
In the Foley Room, you can try your hand -- or feet -- at creating sound effects for a short film called "The Chicken Detectives." While watching a video screen, you get to supply the footsteps, doorbell and other sounds, then play back what you've created. Bring someone with you or you'll feel really silly doing this.
If you go...
The Hollywood Entertainment Museum is at the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Sycamore. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.
Museum admission is $7.50 for adults -- about the going rate for a movie (tickets are $4.50 for seniors and students, $4 for children 5-12, kids under 5 admitted free). Parking with museum validation is $2 for two hours (that's plenty), $5.50 maximum.
For more information, call (213) 465-7900.
Pub Date: 10/27/96